‘Mindfulness’ has become quite the buzzword in recent years. A quick Amazon search revealed over 100,000 items across books, CDs, activity kits including colouring books, daily task sets and so on. So big business. And thereby lies my issue with it.
At a most basic level mindfulness is simply about paying more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you. Something that’s easy to overlook in our fast paced lives with so many calls on our time and distractions to hand – particularly electronic ones. But mindfulness can have huge benefits for both physical and mental wellbeing.
The problem is that this very simple practice has, in my opinion, been highjacked by commerciality. One could be forgiven for thinking that in order to benefit from mindfulness, one requires a darkened room and candle. Or perhaps a lycra outfit and an App. As a minimum. But that’s simply not the case and I’d hate for people to be put off from giving it a go because they feel they don’t have the necessary ‘paraphernalia’.
Keep it simple
I swim regularly. I go to the pool and swim lengths. And this is an excellent time for mindfulness. I keep count of the lengths, notice my breathing patterns, my form and the feel of the water. I don’t think about anything else. There is no room to do so. This provides a refreshing break for both body and mind. But it would work equally well were I to use my dog walking time to notice the world around me.
Tips for Mindfulness
As I said, it’s all about being in the moment:
- Start by bringing awareness to your senses: notice what you can you see, smell, taste, touch and hear? This is a really helpful way to keep yourself in the moment.
- If your mind wanders, just notice it and gently bring it back to your senses.
- Try this for just a few minutes at a time but during that time, try to get completely absorbed in your awareness of the moment.
When we fill our awareness in this way there is no room in our minds for worry or rumination. Which is a good thing and can lead to decreased stress and anxiety, better management of the emotions and enhanced mental health and cognition.
So why not give it a go? You may be heading off on holiday soon and a walk on the beach or a swim in the pool could be the ideal starting point for your mindfulness journey.